Calera Police Department provides CASE, Lexipol updates, swears in new officer at city council meeting

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, December 28, 2023

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

CALERA – Calera Police Chief David Hyche provided an update on the Calera Police Department’s new CASE (Calera Accountability and Success Through Education) program, gave updates on the department’s work with Lexipol and swore in the department’s newest officer during a meeting of the Calera City Council on Monday, Dec. 18.

Speaking first during the pre-council work session, Hyche delivered a report to the City Council that revealed progress was quickly being made toward the proliferation of the department’s newest program, which, upon his own declaration, exceeded even his expectations.

Only a month into the program, SROs have already prepared, organized and presented training in all four of Calera’s schools.

“We’re going to keep statistics on the number of kids we reach and with what the different problems are,” Hyche said. “I really want to commend (Officer Robert Grant) and his guys, because just a little over a month into the program, they are way further down the road than I anticipated. I really didn’t expect for them to start immediately doing this training. They had to become certified before beginning the vape cessation training and they’ve already done that.”

As one of the first moves in the CASE program, SROs and the department as a whole are focusing on combating youth vaping, especially within the city’s schools. Chief among this push is the program’s eight-week-long vape cessation program that is presented free of charge and approved by the American Lung Association.

The class meets once a week for eight weeks and those interested, or looking to have their student take part, are encouraged to call 205-668-3888 for more information.

In the future, it is the goal of the CASE program to include speakers brought into schools, expand training opportunities and involve parents in the program.

“I think it’s important because this is a city effort within our schools,” Hyche said. “We want to communicate with the parents and later down the road we’re also going to have training opportunities for the parents as well.”

Hyche also cited the ability to bring on retired officers as part-time officers as one of the many things that have allowed the proper staffing that makes the CASE program and other actions taken by the Calera Police Department possible.

“I think it’s just a wonderful thing,” Hyche said. “I’m so grateful that we have the ability and the personnel to do this.”

Following his update on the CASE program, Hyche also delivered an update on the department’s progress with Lexipol, which has been contracted by the department and city to help review and update the department’s policies. According to Hyche, the process is well underway, and the third meeting with Lexipol had concluded that day, prior to the meeting.

“We’ve started the rewriting of the policies,” Hyche said. “We now have four policies that we’re reviewing internally and we’re going to have those prepared I think (by) Jan. 8. We’ll have our recommendations and suggested changes that we’ll go over with Lexipol’s people and then it will be ready to present to the Council.”

As mentioned in prior council meetings, the Calera Police Department intends to bring renewed policies to the Council in groups of four to five at a time in order for them to be properly discussed, considered and examined rather than to present them all at once.

“If the Council chooses to pass them at that time, we enact them, they go out to our staff,” Hyche said. “Part of Lexipol is that the policies electronically go to every employee and they have to review (and) acknowledge, which protects us. That will be the next phase. It’s going to be a lot. It’s going to take a year and a half or so to get through all that, (but) it needs to be done.”

After Hyche’s updates during the pre-council session, Hunter Baldwin was formally sworn in to his position as an officer for the Calera Police Department.

Providing praise to Baldwin and his joining of the department, Hyche made comment on the stringent criteria that Calera holds its incoming officers to and cited Baldwin’s capability and fitness for the position.

“We have higher standards at Calera PD than the state minimum standards, and we have higher standards for firearm qualification as well as physical fitness,” he said. “We rule out candidates here that could go and work elsewhere. We think that’s important and we want to continue to do that and hire the best of the best.”

Immediately following Baldwin’s swearing in, Sergeant Grant, who serves as the primary leader of Calera’s Explorer cadet program in addition to his role heading the CASE program, was given the floor and led a short promotion ceremony for two Explorer cadet officers.

“Bryton Walker, our post captain, and Emily Melchor, who’s one of our cadets, are both getting promoted to the rank of sergeant,” Grant said. “We try to give them leadership roles within the program so that they can start learning those skills, whether they use it in law enforcement or in any other job that they may have later in life.”

Walker and Melcher were presented with rank pins by Cadet Capt. Cleyera Shelby along with explorer advisors Sgt. Robbie Grant, Detective Sebastian Taborda and Officer Tonya Rykse.

“I have never seen as many volunteer advisors with the dedication that we have here,” Hyche said. “The more interaction that our department can have within our schools, the better, because the image that kids get from media about law enforcement is not true. We combat that by giving them experience and opportunities to interact with us and to be ambassadors for us in their school.”